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Army Sergeant to Be Tried in Grenade Attack

The U.S. Army intends to court-martial a sergeant accused of tossing grenades into fellow service members' tents while stationed in Kuwait. The attack killed two officers.

The court-martial, expected to take place this summer, could result in the death penalty for Sgt. Hasan Akbar (search), 32.

Akbar faces two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted murder for the attack on 101st Airborne Division (search) soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait on March 23, 2003, during the early days of the Iraq war.

In addition to the two officers killed, 14 people were injured.

Prosecutors have alleged that Akbar stole seven grenades from a Humvee he was guarding, then walked to the brigade operations area an hour later to attack the officers.

An attorney for Akbar said last year that no eyewitnesses placed the soldier at the scene and that other soldiers were too quick to assume that he committed the crime because he is Muslim.

The soldiers killed were Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, of Easton, Pa., and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, of Boise, Idaho.

It is the first time since the Vietnam War that a U.S. Army soldier has been prosecuted for the murder or attempted murder of another soldier during wartime, the Army has said.

To be sentenced to death, Akbar would need to first be convicted by a unanimous verdict of the jury, then sentenced to death by a similar unanimous vote after a separate sentencing phase.

The sentence would then be reviewed by an Army appeals court, a general military appeals court and, ultimately, the president before it would be carried out, said Fort Bragg spokesman Lt. Col. Billy Buckner.

The last death sentence handed down by the Army was in 1996 for Sgt. William Kreutzer, who killed one person and injured others when he fired on soldiers exercising on a field at Fort Bragg.

Akbar's case was transferred to Fort Bragg from Fort Campbell, Ky., because most of the 101st has been in Iraq and cannot handle the case. Fort Bragg is home to the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters, which oversees the 101st and other divisions.

No date has been set for the court-martial. Akbar is being held at a military prison at Fort Knox, Ky., where an arraignment is to be held next week, said Lt. Col. Jon Guden, a lawyer with the 18th Airborne Corps.

Akbar is represented by two military attorneys and one civilian lawyer. He is expected to be moved to a North Carolina military prison once pretrial hearings begin at Fort Bragg, Guden said.

Akbar is allowed to receive a jury trial by at least 12 soldiers, with at least four of them enlisted, as is the defendant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.